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Greenview School is home to an oak tree savanna

two pairs of hands planting a tree sapling

GREENVIEW, Ill. – Greenview School District #200 in Menard County is now home to an oak tree savanna thanks to local youth and community members. The group of 25 oak trees, called a savanna, will breathe new life into oak-hickory forests currently under threat in Illinois.

The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program focuses on tackling global issues at a local level.

“Oak savannas are being overtaken by invasive species, as well as more shade-tolerant trees, such as maples,” says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H specialist. “Illinois 4-H is primed to take action to increase the number of oak trees in the state. The natural world is talking to us, and Illinois 4-H is primed to listen, learn, and act.”

George Staab, a member of the Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District, selected the planting site in collaboration with school district superintendent Ryan Heavner and Natasha Bacon, a school board member and co-leader of the Greenview Boosters 4-H Club.  Heavner envisions adding picnic tables and an outdoor learning space once the trees mature and provide shade. 

On April 4, 16 youth members of the Greenview Boosters 4-H Club and 11 adults participated in the planting.  Guy Sternberg facilitated the educational process on oak tree planting techniques and shared essential precautions for nurturing young trees particularly during this year’s anticipated cicada emergence.  Youth teamed with adult volunteers from the Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District, Menard County Extension, Starhill Forest Arboretum and other community members to properly position and plant the 25 oak trees.  David Dowell pre-drilled a starter hole for each tree.  Knob Hill Landscape Company generously donated the mulch which surrounds each tree. 

Throughout the spring of 2024, youth in 43 counties throughout Illinois are planting groupings of 25 oak trees on public properties in their counties, totaling 1,075 newly planted trees statewide.  Over the past three years, the program has seen a cumulative total of 2,800 new plantings.  The Greenview Boosters have participated with plantings in Menard County for two consecutive years and hopes to continue the tradition in 2025.

The 4-H Green Communities Tree Program aligns with the "learn-by-doing" philosophy of 4-H and is guided by the priorities of the Illinois Forest Action Plan. To help support this project, please visit:

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.